NEW YORK: Prominent Indian chef Vikas Khanna is working on war footing to send COVID-19 emergency relief materials, including oxygen concentrators and PPE kits, to India which is battling a devastating surge in coronavirus infections.
Khanna, a Michelin-star chef, who distributed millions of meals and essential supplies across India during the first wave of the COVID19 pandemic last year, is working round-the-clock to mobilise and transport about 10,000 oxygen concentrators and 50,000 fire-resistant PPE kits to India.
He had tweeted that over USD 525,000 in contributions have been collected within a matter of days and the first shipments of about 650 oxygen concentrators and 5,000 PPE kits have reached India.
“We just crossed USD 525,000 in contributions. (About Rs 4 crore) The first shipments have arrived in India,” he tweeted.
Khanna told PTI here that it is absolutely heartbreaking to see what is unfolding ‘in our motherland’.
“The next few weeks are going to be very emotional and tough. It is also going to be traumatic for all us who are far away. We can’t be safe until all of us are safe. We all have to be very strong,” he said adding that through his efforts, his aim to save as many lives as possible.
“I’m not going to sit still till this is achieved. Everything else can wait, but we cannot have any delay in saving lives,” he said.
California-based aid group Vibha, in partnership with Khanna, is also mobilising efforts and raising money to procure the much-needed oxygen concentrators, PPE kits and other essential supplies for distribution across India.
Khanna said while half a million dollars have been collected in about five days, the organisation and he aims to collect a million dollars to help procure additional critical supplies for India.
He said he is also figuring out to fund vaccination centers in the country.
Last year, Khanna’s massive food drive FeedIndia Initiative’ had provided meals, rations and other essential supplies to millions of people across India amid the first wave of COVID19.
As the pandemic hit India last year, Khanna had partnered with India’s National Disaster Relief Force for logistical and on-the-ground support and his movement soon received support from companies and tech firms.
As the second wave of the pandemic causes widespread devastation across the country, Khanna said the food drive will start again and he aims to distribute 8 million meals in the next one week, starting from Mothers Day this weekend.
India is in the midst of a raging second wave of COVID-19 and is recording over 400,000 daily coronavirus infections and more than 3000 deaths.
According to data by Johns Hopkins, India has a total of 21 million confirmed COVID19 cases and over 230,000 deaths.